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Healthy Start Scheme

What is Healthy Start?

If you're more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk.

If you're eligible, you'll be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops. We'll add your benefit onto this card every 4 weeks.

You can use your card to buy:

  • plain liquid cow's milk
  • fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables
  • fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
  • infant formula milk based on cow's milk

You can also use your card to collect:

  • Healthy Start vitamins - these support you during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • vitamin drops for babies and young children - these are suitable from birth to 4 years old

Healthy Start has been updated, you no longer receive paper vouchers. To get help to buy food and milk you need to apply for a Healthy Start card.

You can still use your Healthy Start vouchers until their expiry date. You can find the expiry date printed on your vouchers.

Visit the NHS - The new healthy Start Scheme

Do I qualify for Healthy Start?

You qualify for Healthy Start if you're at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old.

If you get Universal credit, you can apply online if:

  • you're at least 10 weeks pregnant or have at least one child under 4 years old
  • your family's monthly 'take-home pay for this period' is £408 or less from employment

If you get Child Tax Credit, you can apply online if:

  • you have at least one child under 4 years old
  • your family's annual income is £16,190 or less

To apply, you'll need your:

  • name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • baby's due date (if you're pregnant)
  • benefit award letter if you're over 18 (you must enter the same information that's on this letter)

How to apply

You can apply by email or phone if you're at least 10 weeks pregnant, or have at least one child under 4 years old, and get either:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for 4 weeks if your working hours, or your partner or carer's, go to less than 16 hours per week)

You can also apply by email or phone if you're at least 10 weeks pregnant and either:

  • under 18 years old and not getting any benefits
  • getting Child Tax Credits and your family's annual income is £16,190 or less
  • getting income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

You can apply by either:

Phone lines are open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday (except public holidays). Find out about call charges at NHS Business Services Authority - Call charges and phone numbers.

Apply now on the NHS website

If you're not a British citizen but your child is

You might be eligible for Healthy Start depending on your immigration status.

You can get Healthy Start if all the following are true:

  • you have at least 1 British child under 4 years old - to check if your child is automatically a British citizen if you're not sure see GOV.UK - Check if you're a British citizen
  • your family earns £408 or less per month after tax
  • you cannot claim 'public funds' (for example, benefits) - either because of your immigration status or because you do not have an immigration status, for ore details see GOV.UK - Public funds

Your biometric residence permit (BRP) or your online immigration status will say if you cannot claim public funds. You might also have a letter from the Home Office about it.

See GOV.UK - View and prove your immigration status: get a share code for details.

To apply for Healthy Start, ask for an application form via email. Only use this email address if you think you cannot claim public funds because of your immigration status, email Healthystartclaim@dhsc.gov.uk.